Skip to main content

About the Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program

The DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program oversees the investigation and cleanup of environmental contamination and the redevelopment of contaminated properties. DNR staff provide a comprehensive, streamlined process that consolidates state and federal cleanups into one program (including hazardous waste cleanup, underground storage tank investigation and cleanup, spill response, state-funded cleanups and brownfields).

Reports and successes

Program awards

Brownfields Recognition Award
RR Program awards from 2010 and 2011.
In April 2011, U.S. EPA Region 5 presented the Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program with a Brownfields Recognition Award. The honor recognizes "participants who have made exceptional contributions to the Brownfields Program." In making the award, the U.S. EPA recognized the over-all work done by the RR Program, including projects such as the Wisconsin Plant Recovery Initiative (WPRI), our One Cleanup Memorandum of Agreement with EPA and program transparency.


In 2010, the RR Program was recognized with a State Program Innovation Award from the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) [exit DNR], a nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C. This honor recognized the Wisconsin Plant Recovery Initiative, a statewide effort to provide environmental and economic assistance to communities and companies struggling with closed manufacturing facilities.

DNR's EPA S.128(a) grant accomplishments

The DNR was awarded EPA Section 128(a) funds beginning on Sept. 1, 2003, to enhance its state response program. This federal grant is used to support federal and state programs under the jurisdiction of the DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (BIL) passage in November 2021 created additional investments under s. 128(a) for states and tribes to build response program capacity, oversee brownfields cleanups and conduct site assessment and cleanup activities.

Below are the reports over the last several years that summarize many of the RR Program's successes.

Grant administration report - a track record of success

The RR Program published a grant administration report that highlights how the program has partnered with various communities to turn idle properties with known or suspected contamination into new redevelopment utilizing various grant sources. The report focuses on the successes of the DNR's former Site Assessment Grant program (SAG) and showcases 29 site success stories.

Voluntary party liability exemption (VPLE) program achievements

A report is prepared every year, required by section 292.25, Wis. Stat., with an update on the status of the voluntary party liability exemption. This required report is prepared on a biannual basis and highlights the performance of the VPLE program.

Site statistics

Summary of new contaminated sites and completed cleanups

The following table illustrates the number of contaminated sites reported to the DNR since 1995, and the number of sites cleaned up and approved for case closure by the DNR each year.

All new contamination incidents must be reported to the DNR by law. However, the DNR transfers responsibility for oversight of some incidents to other agencies. Cleanups where the contaminants are agri-chemicals (e.g., fertilizer, pesticides) are overseen and approved by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection [exit DNR].

Most investigations and cleanups of contaminated soil and groundwater take more than a year and there is little correlation between the number of new incidents reported in a year and the number of completed cleanups in the same calendar year.

Year New Reports to the DNR of contaminated soil or groundwater Completed cleanups of soil or groundwater approved by the DNR
2022 224 225
2021 256 257
2020 197 306
2019 218 270
2018 232 346
2017 277 344
2016 283 271
2015 306 335
2014 288 348
2013 327 368
2012 362 500
2011 292 422
2010 336 464
2009 313 453
2008 444 467
2007 400 511
2006 477 604
2005 483 553
2004 544 543
2003 582 588
2002 600 540
2001 725 510
2000 720 815
1999 1,158 1,144
1998 1,686 842
1997 1,819 884
1996 1,588 1,482
TOTALS 15,137 14,392

One Cleanup Program

One Cleanup Program

The DNR and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Region 5 have a One Cleanup Program Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the two agencies.

The memorandum is nationally significant in that it is the first EPA-state MOA to address cleanup requirements across several environmental media, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Toxic Substances Control Act and Leaking Underground Storage Tanks.

Wisconsin's program simplifies cleanups of contaminated sites under different regulatory programs by providing a single, consolidated approach rather than utilizing a range of separate programs with potentially conflicting approaches and cleanup standards. By clarifying the U.S. EPA's intentions and expectations with respect to Wisconsin's One Cleanup Program, it is believed that the MOA will expedite cleanups of all contaminated sites, including brownfields, as well as guide property owners, developers, consultants and others in understanding how meeting Wisconsin's standards can satisfy both agencies.

For more information about the One Cleanup Program, please contact Judy Fassbender.

State-funded cleanups

State-funded response

State-funded response is a process that occurs when the state – through the DNR – provides resources and tools to communities to address contamination issues that endanger public health and the environment.

Under Section 20.370(2)(dv), Wis. Stats., the DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program uses appropriations from the state's Environmental Fund to take action at sites in need of immediate or long-term response.

Minocqua remediation of contaminated well payed for with state-funded response dollars.
One of the main goals of state-funded response actions is to protect Wisconsin communities dealing with difficult environmental challenges. State-funded response dollars are paying for remediation of a contaminated Minocqua city well.

Cases where the RR Program uses state funds generally fall into the following four categories.

  • Environmental repair sites (Wis. Stat.  § 292.31) – Properties or areas of concern where a responsible party (RP) - i.e., the individual/entity responsible for the contamination – is unknown, unwilling or unable to pay for necessary remediation.
  • Spill responses (Wis. Stat.  § 292.11) – Locations where recent spills pose a public health or environmental threat that must be addressed immediately.
  • Abandoned containers (Wis. Stat.  § 292.41) – Some properties have containers or barrels which hold hazardous materials, many of which are dumped by unknown parties.
  • Bottled water (Wis. Admin. Code ch. NR 738) – The RR Program uses state funds to provide potable water to homes in areas where contamination makes local drinking water unsafe.

For state-funded response actions where the RPs are unknown, unwilling or unable to pay for the cost of the state response, the RR Program will attempt to recover the cost after the project is complete.

Examples of state-funded response activities

State funds can be used to finance a variety of activities, including:

  • site investigations
  • design and installation of multimillion-dollar landfill caps
  • providing emergency water to residents with contaminated drinking water sources
  • installation of treatment systems to remove pollutants from groundwater
  • contracts for construction oversight
  • operation and maintenance of treatment facilities and other remediation activities

Frequently asked questions about state-funded response

Who conducts state-funded response activities?

The RR Program oversees state-funded response actions. The RR Program has authority to hire environmental consultants and contracting firms. These private companies conduct cleanups and other activities to the best technical standards that are economically feasible at the time.

If you are a consultant or contractor interested in being considered for state-funded work and would like to be added to the Environmental services contractor list, please contact Jennifer Meyer.

How are sites chosen for state-funded response projects?

A site can move into and out of the state-funded response process any time from site discovery through completed cleanup. State funding is usually targeted at sites which pose an immediate health concern to people or where not acting could result in much greater costs down the line. Other sites are chosen because there is simply no one else to respond to the problem, and without state help, the site would continue to pose a public and/or environmental health threat.